Being fit and healthy is an important aspect of prime-time health. Whether you are in the preventive mindset or repair mode, exercise is a critical part of functional aging. As we age, our sense of balance, coordination, and response time all tend to decrease which can lead to falls, the number one cause of injury related deaths in the United States.
But, if we spend just 20 minutes a day focusing on exercise, we can drastically reduce our chances of injury related falls, and continue to live our lives on our own terms rather than be limited by our chronological age. In fact, studies have proven, for example, that older adults can maintain muscle with exactly the same amount of strength training as younger adults. Losing muscle is the main reason people decline as they get older, but it doesn't have to be this way!
So, what kind of exercise do prime-timers need? A balance of strength training, endurance training, and flexibility training. We need to build up our muscles, which will in turn create stronger bones. We need to work on endurance so our heart doesn't have to work as hard, and we need to work on our stretching so we can do all the things we want to do.
Think of movement as the best medicine you'll ever take and one that has only pleasant side effects. In fact, exercise is the most under utilized antidepressant!
As you begin to think about adding exercise to your daily life, it can be hard to know where exactly to begin. Like I said, there are three aspects of training (strength, endurance, and flexibility) so if we plan just 20 minutes per day, we would start with 2 days focused on strength, 2 days focused on endurance, and 2 days focused on stretching.
If you are new to all of this, then the best thing you can do for yourself is start low and go slow. Don't do too much at once. Here is a simple 6-day plan you can follow:
Day 1: Resistance bands for 20 minutes
Day 2: 20 minute walk
Day 3: Brief 5 minute warm-up followed by 15 minutes of stretching
Day 4: Dumbbell strength training for 20 minutes
Day 5: Swimming, dancing, golf, tennis, whatever you enjoy for 20 minutes
Day 6: Yoga
There are tons and tons of free videos online to help you get started. However, if you are worried about hurting yourself, it's a good idea to hire a personal trainer in the beginning. A good personal trainer will help you figure out a plan, assess your current fitness level, your ability to balance, and your range of motion through various exercises, and then work with you to develop a plan that will get you the results you want. It's important to know that you will not need a personal trainer forever. You may feel very comfortable exercising on your own after just a few months!
If you would like to know more about the personal training services I offer, please click here.